Queer/Race

I had to do it! Lady Gaga and Beyonce ‘Telephone’

Posted in Uncategorized by mchambe2 on March 23, 2010

In case all of you haven’t seen it yet… here it is: the LONG version of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s C-R-A-Z-Y video for “Telephone”. 

http://www.mtv.com/videos/lady-gaga/492192/telephone-long-version.jhtml#id=1518071

I had heard rumors that MTV banned this video, but seeing as it’s still on the website… (just minus the vagina scene)

ANYWAYS! I thought this video was a really important example of an intersection of queer and race in the arts. The video premiered about two weeks ago on the E! Channel, and after Lady Gaga made some brief comments that I think are pivotal to understanding Gaga. She talked about how the song is a ‘shallow pop song’ so she felt it necessary to make an extreme video as a social commentary. Beginning scenes in jail with a diverse range of characters could be read at many depths.

Although it is set in a presumably women’s prison, Gaga makes out with a fellow prisoner whose gender is quite ambiguous. Gaga has identified herself as bisexual, and i think its incredibly interesting in her interview with E! that she described her relationship as so special with Beyonce because “we both like women”. Gaga’s continuous refusal to be placed in a box surrounding her intimate relationships makes her incredibly interesting… no one can put a finger on her. What was the video saying by her make out sesh with the only prisoner who wasn’t obviously a woman? 

What can be inferred by the fact that the prisoners in the ‘fight scene’ are Latina? The Majority of the prisoners in the ‘yard’ and in the scene where Gaga answers the phone are African American or Latina and a few Caucasian… but when she is dancing through the prison cells all of her dancers are white. Is this an aesthetic move or should we read into this as social commentary? 

Although there is much to read in her video about our society, the intersection of queerness and race can be seen in her collaboration with Beyonce, the characters and extras in her video, and the fact of who gets to participate. Gaga makes out with a white person, and all of her dancers in the jail cells are white girls… yet Beyonce is the Bonnie to her Clyde or the other way around whatever. Sometimes I can’t figure Gaga out. We know where she stands in regards to queerness…but what does Gaga’s video say in regards to race? She is very queer positive, but such little nuances of who gets to make out with her and be her dances, could they say more about lack of race recognition?

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3 Responses

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  1. rmleeb said, on March 30, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I might be misquoting, or even thinking of someone else, but I’m pretty sure that, when an interviewer approached Gaga about her bisexuality in a conversation early in her career (even though it is young still), Gaga reported something along the lines of the world has so many people, and that limiting yourself to selecting only one gender immediately cuts your chances to find love in half.
    Knowing this, I cannot accept thinking that Gaga would have any preference for race. If she chose only to have relations with whites, she would be cutting her “chances to find love” to… what? A fifth of the world’s population?
    As far as relationships go, I think Gaga’s views generally reflect that setting up borders or guidelines when trying to find someone really limits (and even destroys) your potential.
    Great post!

  2. mchambe2 said, on March 31, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    touche. i agree, Gaga would not limit her romantic choices based on race, but i do find it curious that her video’s present another message. i believe, correct me if i am wrong, that it is a collaborative process, that she has sooome say in who plays whom, and i find it interesting that white dancers/characters make a distinct appearance.

    the jail yard and cell scene when she answers “beyonce’s call” are peppered if not dominated by non-white races, yet her make-out partner, and dancers, and the two “officers”… who are connected to Gaga in a more distinct manner (aka the main ‘characters’) are all white. does anyone else see this or have thoughts?

  3. bblurbs said, on April 7, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Definitely an interesting point to bring up. Gaga is quite the character and this is exuded in all of her videos. Now thinking back on it, I never really have seen too many people of different races within her videos. Perhaps her focus on sexuality and her lack of preference is already intense for viewers. I found it interesting that Beyonce’s love interest, or whatever Tyrese Gibson was playing, had to be black. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her with a love interest in any of her music videos that wasn’t African American/black. That’s another thing to consider. Is it easier to just match people with their own race within a video? (I’m sure it has alot to do with directors and producers.) What’s more controversial, a woman with no sexual preference, a woman with no racial preference? Is a woman with no preference at all? Too much for TV lol, even for Gaga?


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